iPad Virtual Elementary School

Maurice de Hond

A former client, and for the last 25 years a good friend of mine, showed me the future of online elementary education yesterday.  I first met Maurice de Hond when he worked for Vendex, a Dutch conglomerate that had interests in a computer client of mine. We became fast friends even though he lives in Amsterdam. I see him at least once a year if not more.  Maurice is now a Social Geographer, a pollster, and author of “Dankzij de snelheid van het licht” (1995).  Maurice is my age, has four grown children and a daughter Daphne, nearly three years old. Daphne has been actively using the iPhone/iPad since she was one.

Daphne

Maurice is part of a group of pioneers who believe that elementary education should be focused on individual talents and capabilities of each child. Children should be nourished by all the wonderful technology that is available today. The group is starting a new type of school that they believe will better prepare elementary students for the challenges and opportunities of tomorrow. You can read all about it in a manifest that spells out all of the strategies and goals on this topic. Remember, it was translated from Dutch.

 

I have also included a video of Daphne using the iPad.

This is our basic manifest

Did you see Daphne with a great writing app?

I Just Took Off 10 Pounds Last Night

I just liberated myself. I have never done this before and I can’t tell you why. I hope it works out. If it doesn’t, I will just have to go back to my old ways. I hope no one catches me. After all, I am the DigiDame.

For the first time ever, I scanned all the paper work I usually take with me on a trip. I used the Scanner Pro app by Readdle on my iPhone. I am sure it is available on all smartphones. It is also available on the iPad.  I never used a scanner before. Not even the cutting edge, super-duper one in my office.

I leave today for Croatia. Before today, I would pack all my papers in the same carryon bag as my cosmetics. It didn’t matter how heavy it was, I had to take every last piece of paper. I didn’t want to leave home without all of my reference materials; just in case I needed to act on something while I was away.

This has been going on forever. I go nowhere without my lists. I always carry a spiral pad with me and take notes for both personal and business reminders. There is no way that I can take care of all the things I do without jotting things down. I speak to so many people in a hour, it would be impossible for me to remember all of the promises I make.

It is also impossible to take notes digitally. I just can’t type that fast. Pencil and paper are the most efficient, flexible and easy to deal with. I should know. I am in the service business and my job is to get things done. My lists have lists. Some days I look at my lists before I go to sleep and see 68 Things To Do. Multiply that by every work day and you can see why I am a busy all the time.

One could ask why I don’t just transcribe my daily notes into any of the fabulous apps that are available just for this purpose? That answer lies somewhere between why I haven’t taken off the weight I promised I would and why I haven’t read the three books I purchased on Amazon a few months ago.

Last night I got serious, because my daughter Whitney noticed my big bag of work I was packing up at the office before having dinner with her. “You are still carrying that thing? Look at me. I run an international business and all I carry is my iPhone, wallet, and keys.”

When I got home I started to scan. I couldn’t believe that I could do all these things on my iPhone.  Scanner Pro captures the image of the document with the iPhone camera and processes it to look like a scan from a flatbed scanner. The scan detects paper borders, crops unnecessary parts of the image, removes shadows and saves the result as a PDF file. Scans are stored locally on the iPhone and can be shared via email, uploaded to Dropbox or Evernote.

I have to go now. I just thought of two more things to scan.

The Next Step In Book Publishing

Laura Huntt Foti

A year or two ago Laura Huntt Foti, a long time business friend of mine, told me she was going to write a book that included a soundtrack. I had never heard of anything like that so I was totally intrigued. Laura was a writer and she spent many years in the music business so I figured if anyone could do it, it would certainly be her. I didn’t quite understand how the words would be integrated with the music but I clearly got the premise. 

Laura said that when she read books that were influenced by music she craved to hear the piece that was mentioned. She was especially influenced by Keith Richards’ autobiography, Life.  “As I read it, several times I went to my desk to play songs that were mentioned—and even buy them when I didn’t already have them. If I’d had my Kindle Fire then, and if the music had somehow been integrated into the book, it would have been a much more satisfying experience. That became my long-term goal for book publishing.” 

Laura has just pioneered this concept with her debut novel, The Cusp of Everything, which includes a 1970s era sound track. There are references to more than 200 primarily 1970’s-era songs throughout The Cusp of Everything, setting tone and time frame. “The original concept for the book was that it would be published as an e-book on Amazon or iTunes so that you could play clips seamlessly while you were reading, and buy the songs if you liked them,” she explains. “But I couldn’t figure out how to do it without completely interrupting the reading experience. So readers can go to the book’s website, www.cuspofeverything.com, and listen from there. It’s not ideal, but it will have to do for now.” 

The Cusp of Everything is published by Prince Willow Publishing and available now from Amazonfor $11.95. The cover was designed by NorthSouth Studios. Cusp on Barnes & Noble (print): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-cusp-of-everything-laura-huntt-foti/1110951939?ean=9780615628400

Cusp for iPad/iPhone: http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-cusp-of-everything/id528864949?mt=11 

Since 1996 Laura has worked as an independent writer/editor, researcher and social media marketing consultant through her company Sound Input. Prior to starting her consulting practice, Laura developed interactive programs as Senior Vice President of Philips Interactive Media. Previously she was Director of Marketing for RCA Video Productions (BMG) and Video Editor of Billboard. I met her back in the early ‘80s when she was Managing Editor of Audio Times. 

In conclusion, other authors have tried to incorporate music into their fiction, but from what I can see Laura has taken it to its logical extreme. Rather than just a playlist of music to listen to, or music inspired by the book, music is almost a character in her book. It is completely integrated throughout the story in a way I don’t think has ever been done before. 

Here are some other books utilizing a playlist or soundtrack in some way: 

Leave it to Michael Nesmith: way ahead of his time! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Prison:_A_Book_with_a_Soundtrack

Sex & the City 2 book/soundtrack CD: http://store.hbo.com/sex-and-the-city-2-book-and-soundtrack-set/detail.php?p=262840 

Narrows Gate by Jim Fusilli: http://www.kindlepost.com/2011/11/author-spotlight-jim-fusillis-playlist-for-narrows-gate.html 

Reversal by Eric Galvez: http://www.ericgalvezdpt.com/?page_id=6  (music starts playing immediately on this website) 

Love Is a Mixtape by Rob Sheffield: (http://www.amazon.com/Love-Is-Mix-Tape-Life/dp/1400083036/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1334962197&sr=8-1

Twilight (music that inspired author Stephanie Meyer) http://www.stepheniemeyer.com/twilight_playlist.html

What’s The Story With Facebook?

I just found out from my girlfriend Julie Lesser that I am not the only one who suffers from Facebook confusion. The format is continually changing. Just when I think I have mastered Facebook’s navigation, it changes again. The most recent updates are: timeline, the omission of tabs, different fonts, a cover photo, what gets posted where, and the algorithms that determine the most important comments. 

I have been calling Julie a lot because Facebook has become a constant struggle to find things. “It’s a full time job just to keep up with it,” Julie admitted. “I wish I could get paid for all of the time I spend explaining the changes to everyone, from novices to the most experienced users.” 

Julie is one of those people who likes to explore by clicking on everything. She probably knows more about the user experience of Facebook than most of the people who work there. “I understand the technology landscape. Companies have to stay fresh in order to be ahead of the curve. There is no such thing as the status quo. Apple wouldn’t be Apple if Steve Jobs didn’t experiment all the time. Facebook is no different.” 

Julie first joined Facebook in 2008, has 256 friends, and spends eight to 10 hours a day on the social media platform. Julie is just like me. We take our iPhones with us everywhere, including the bathroom and  to bed. If you think we are crazy, then think again. There are more people like us every day. The smart phone is becoming the command center for everything. It allows us to keep constant tabs on business obligations and the things that interest us the most. It is no different than always reading newspapers or books. Let me correct that. There is a difference. The iPhone weighs less and can fit in the palm of our hands. 

Julie and 900 million others love Facebook, but the frustration is mounting. “What is the most disturbing thing about Facebook is the lack of communication on the part of the company. There is no one to talk to, no phone, no email, no guides. We have to rely on bloggers and non-related websites to get information. It’s insane, but that’s just the way it is.” 

Another major issue according to Julie, are the fan pages. They totally lost their focus. The most prominent postings on the page are messages from the brand itself. The whole point of the fan page is for users to express themselves and have interactive discussions. “I used to visit fan pages such as Valley Relics which gives the history of the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles. I loved picking up tidbits about the area I live in. With the recent Facebook updates, I have to hunt to find user comments. It sucks.” 

Here are some of the sites Julie relies on to help her understand Facebook better:

1-http://www.facebook.com/KnownIssues

2-www.socialfixer.com  founded by Matt Kruse and http://socialfixer.com/about.php

You can access Matt’s Facebook page with the link at the bottom of www.socialfixer.com.  

3-www.allfacebook.com

Facebook  has been in the news a lot this week. Here are some of the stories you should know about: 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bianca-bosker/facebook-advertising_b_1546186.html?ref=technology 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/27/facebook-investors-facebook-ipo_n_1548710.html?ref=technology&ir=Technology

Karen And Aaron, A Love Story

I wanted to officially document the greatest love story of all time that just happened to take place in the consumer electronics business. Since I or others may never get around to writing a book about it, I thought my blog would be the most appropriate platform to tell the Romeo and Juliet story of Aaron Neretin and Karen Fisher

Aaron Neretin

Aaron was for decades a well known and highly respected editor, writer, and researcher in the consumer electronics business (Home Furnishings Daily, Fairchild Publication and Merchandising, Billboard); and Karen was a celebrated super agent for interior designers (Designer Previews) and a magazine and book author (Home Furnishings Daily, Cosmopolitan,  American Home and Esquire). They both received numerous industry awards.

Karen Fisher

They were as opposite as day and night except for their love for each other. She was tall, very thin, very statuesque, wore designer clothes, played tennis several times a week, and did the round of elegant parties in the most exclusive of places. She was never married, never had children. He was tall, big, and round. He loved the horses, Las Vegas, his children and grandchildren — not necessarily in that order. Aaron was well-read, a brilliant speaker, and loved being the life of the party. You often heard his voice before actually seeing him in a crowd. Karen was more reserved. 

They both died last year. She from brain cancer in her early 70s and he from a broken heart in his early 80s. While they became a couple late in life, they still had close to 25 years together.For a good many of those years they maintained separate apartments. They did live together most weekends and more often at the end when she was helping to take care of him after some heart issues. The irony was that she became terminally ill and he ended up taking care of her.Then he just didn’t want to live without her. He suffered a massive stroke and died a few months before her. 

The purpose of this story is to let you know their love affair can only be described as   some thing larger than their distinguished careers. Most industry people only really  knew the surface of it. I was there when they met back in 1966 at Home Furnishings Daily.We all worked together in the city news room and our desks were literally back to back. I was also lucky to have known them decades later when they reunited as the most loyal and devoted life partners. Eliot and I spent many joyous times with them both in New York City and Miami Beach where we all split our time. Karen and Aaron introduced us to a Turkish restaurant in NYC on 10th avenue in the 50s called Taboon. We still go there and start every meal with a toast to them.

It is so interesting to reflect on how these opposites expressed their true love. They shared a devotion that only the most brilliant and practical could manifest. Their life together was simple.They stuck to the true basics that can only make the most grounded happy: tons of laughs, good company, great conversations, and a steamy love life. I think they both confided in me. The thing that intrigued me most about them was the way they spoke about each other. He praised her for building a fantastic business and she praised him for just being fantastic. How refreshing!

 

 

 

Working Virtually From The Adriatic

Croatia

Here I go. The countdown has begun. In just four days I will be traveling to Croatia, Slovenia, and Montenegro with Eliot and friends Ruth and Howard Greenberg. We planned this trip months ago. Little did I know that in addition to keeping up with my PR work for HWH, I would have a daily blog post to write.

Montenegro

I think this is my 43rd post. As I mentioned before, writing is the easiest part of this endeavor. Researching the facts, finding related links and photos, proofing, and finally posting, is very tedious. Maybe it’s quick and easy for others, but everything takes me a little longer. 

Slovenia

I am not looking for sympathy. I am looking for suggestions. I want to  post every day, but the rigorous schedule of touring with a group is not going to leave me a lot of time.

However, I am determined to post every 24 hours because that’s what serious bloggers do. I am enamored of Joanne Wilson, the Gotham Gal, because she  manages to post everyday no matter where she is. Wife to Fred, the super VC, mother of three and an investor herself, she writes a blog about  women entrepreneurs, food, and art.  Every morning when I wake up, Joanne’s blog is waiting for me in my email box. I am waiting for her to slip, then I can too. 

Joanne Wilson

Even though we don’t leave until Wednesday, I am all packed. At least everything is laid out on the dining room table. I learned a long time ago when we started traveling around the world not to wait until the last minute to get my things together. You can’t combine work and play without being totally organized. I have done this so many times before, but this time it seems totally overwhelming. I must get through this. I have made lists, My lists have lists. “Don’t forget iPhone, IPad, iPod, chargers, netbook, iPhone tripod, Bluetooth earpiece, Fitbit, Fitbit charger, spiral notebooks, and pens. I have to check time differences and wireless capabilities at each hotel we are staying at, My worse fear is traveling without wifi.

I can’t stand not being connected. I remember when we traveled on the Oceania Cruise Line’s Nautica to Southeast Asia six years ago, We rented a Satellite telephone so I could call the office every day. We would have to stand on the upper deck, face the sun, and tilt the phone in such a way that the call would go through. The cost of that extravagance was over a $1000. Today, I just download an app called Line2 so I can call home free wherever wireless is available.  

Working remotely from anywhere in the world now is possible, No more excuses. Maybe that is what scares me the most.

Internet Isolation Is Not Necessarily A Bad Thing

Yesterday I hinted that many of my friends are very worried that the world of the Internet is making their children and grandchildren totally anti-social. They believe that the adults of tomorrow will be incapable of relationships, both personal and business, because they haven’t spent enough time learning interpersonal skills.

I have one girl friend who absolutely can’t stand sitting next to a family in a restaurant, where young children are watching a movie on an iPad or playing a video game on a smart phone. As a former elementary teacher, she honestly feels that parents should be engaging their children in dialogue during meals rather than using technology as a babysitter.

I have been very curious about this subject for a while because I am the mother of an adult child who spent the better portion of her life in front a computer screen. In recent years I have often heard my daughter say she doesn’t want to be anywhere near a computer when her work is done for the day. Too bad her work is never done.

In order to get a proper perspective on this, I decided to ask people under 40 how they feel about the their isolation. Here are some of the things they told me:

1-Most people piss me off. Their conversations are a waste of time. I prefer to talk online where I can instantaneously cut someone off.

2-The Internet has made me more social than ever before. I have friends all over      the world. We talk about “things,” not “people.” We see each other a few times a year, and when we do we pick up where we left off online. We are all interested in the same things. I don’t have to hear about their kids, their money woes, or their sex lives. I spend way too much time with egomaniacs who only want to talk about themselves. None of them are really interested in what I do and how I do it.

3-I am a homebody. I have many hobbies. I go out with family and friends a few times a month. I love them but they are so boring.

4-I have never been happier since the advent of the Internet. I am busy all the time doing things that I like to do. My mind is being stimulated every waking hour. I used to sit around reading comic books and watching TV.

5-Before the Internet, I spent most of my time partying and getting drunk. Now I have to stay sober because I am an app developer. I have never felt better in my life. I even got married to a girl who I met online.

6-The only one who is worried about my interpersonal skills is my mother. She nags me all the time. She needs to learn interpersonal skills. Nag, nag, nag

7-My parents’ universe is so small. My universe is so big. I love them but they are clueless about the business world and personal relationships. Most people are like me, not them.

8-My father watches sports on TV all day. My mother yaks on the telephone. They are not exactly role models.

I have to admit that there are many times that I love sitting at home alone in front of my computer. Have I found the Fountain of Youth?

You Need A Digital Personal Assistant

Julie Lesser

You go to a dentist when your tooth hurts. You go to your hair stylist when you hair needs a cut. You go to a masseuse when your muscles ache, and you go to a therapist when you are at your wits’ end. Then why shouldn’t you go to what I call a Digital Personal Assistant when you need help with the wonderful world of technology? A DPA is someone you can hire on an hourly basis who will help you figure out Twitter, set up iTunes, show you Audible, explain whatever apps you are interested in, and even go shopping with you for your tech needs.

Let’s stop this insanity. Why should we be held hostage to our technology fears when there are so many youngsters who are out of work and willing to introduce us to a world that is beyond our comprehension? We lead vital and productive lives. Why should anything stand in our way of experiencing the latest in innovation? We should be a part of the digital revolution and learn as much as we can. Most of us rely on our children to help us. I think we all agree that they have little time and no patience for us. A friend of mine recently told me, “My son is the last person I would ask. He talks jargon and when I ask him more than once to show me something, he almost gets violent.”

The simple truth is that your children are the wrong ones to teach you this stuff. You need someone to call who knows there is a financial reward that goes along with it. I used to pay $25 an hour to a young friend of mine to teach my girlfriend how to use Skype, send multiple emails, fix her printer, and explain the wonders of scanning. It was my birthday gift to her. She has now used a Digital Personal Assistant several times.

Julie is a digital whiz

Last night I was talking about this concept with my much younger girl friend Julie Lesser who lives in Westlake Village, California. Julie is an Internet expert even though that is not her day job. She is just one of these natural talents who intuitively knows her way around software, hardware, social media platforms, mobile equipment, and apps. She spends six or eight hours on the net every day researching, reading, and learning more and more about how our lifestyles are being influenced by the tech world. It is not unusual for younger people to spend hours at their computers. In fact, it is what makes them much more sophisticated and specialized in a world that we don’t realize exists.

Julie was answering questions I had about Facebook and why there are so many format changes. She enlightened me as no one else has had the patience to do. That will also be another blog post. Meanwhile, we discussed the concept of the Digital Personal Assistant and decided that we would both venture into starting a small business that helped others. We were on the phone for two hours discussing all of the possibilities. That is a lot of time for someone to be offline, so I truly want to officially thank her now.

We would like to begin by helping any DigiDame readers. Email me at Lois@digidame.com. any time you have a question. If Julie or anyone else we add to our virtual staff can’t help you via telephone or email, we will get you someone in person. Don’t be shy, call. I know that the biggest challenge for this business model is getting the 50-plus crowd to make that first call. We either have a tremendous fear factor or we are just too lazy to learn. I don’t know how to get through to you other than to just keep saying it over and over. Technology is just not that difficult to learn. Once you learn it, or even part of it, your life is going to go in to a positive spin. Don’t you deserve it?

I Am Finally In My Comfort Zone

This is what I wear to work everyday

Walking on the streets of Manhattan

The other day I posted a picture of myself on Facebook with two 23-year old app developers from Chile who came to visit me at my office. Within seconds my California girl friend Sheri Lesser wrote a message on my page that said, “I have never seen you in jeans. You look good.”  The truth is that most of my career I was required to wear a business suit to work. I spent thousands and thousands of dollars on clothes each year just to sit in my office, get an occasional visitor or go see a client once or twice a week. Oh yes, luncheons. I needed the glamorous suits to walk from the coat closet in the restaurant to my table where I sat covered for one or two hours. 

Online for our coffee in the Flatiron District

Check out the shoes

When I think back to those days, I realize how silly we all were dressing up to impress each other. I have to admit that I was one of the most vocal bosses about people not properly dressing for work. I even scolded several people on my staff when I saw them dressed in warm-up suits traveling to the CES show in Las Vegas. I told them that the aircraft was filled with industry people judging their appearance. I even went so far as to say that what they wore had a direct reflection on the agency. 

Muscles and tatoos are the status symbols

Those were the days. Today if you wear a suit in the digital community in New York City, Seattle, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Los Angeles and Boston people will think you are going to a funeral. Everyone wears casual slacks or jeans, a shirt, top or sweater, comfortable shoes or sneakers and hopefully clean underwear. We are all non-descript. It’s all about creativity and not the surface BS. I may be 30 years older than most, but I better conform if I am going to be taken seriously. Truth be told, I never felt better about myself.  I love working in this environment and I love being so comfortable today without my tight-fitting pantyhose, my tangled slip and my aching high heels. I will leave that to the lawyers and bankers who still feel they have to impress someone. 

I must say that some of the younger folks do take advantage of the new accepted attire. The young women wear short, short, short, skirts and short, short, shorts on hot days in the summer and their male counterparts wear loose cargo shorts. I urge you not to look up on the subway steps. You will see more than the X-rated channel on your TV sets.

My New Life As A Blogger

Andrea Hein

My girl friend Andrea Hein asked me at dinner Sunday night, “Lois, how are you going to keep this up?” She was referring to writing a blog post each day. “Are you still going to do PR?”  Yes, I am going to keep my day job. It is a perfect fit for a blogger. PR gives me the ammunition I need to stay in the action. How I am going to manage both is another story.

Writing the copy for a blog is the easy part. The part that is so

WordPress Template Called A Dashboard

time-consuming is proofing, finding images, researching related stories, highlighting links, tagging, and checking and rechecking before you click to post. For those of us who are not technically inclined, the most fascinating part of a blog is the way it is laid out and designed. Unless bloggers have their own art department, how do their posts look so professional? I could never understand that. I have come to learn that there are software programs created and designed just for bloggers. The one I use is called WordPress. I find it absolutely amazing that you can insert your copy, photos, links, and tags and WordPress does the rest. Each time I post a blog, it takes about three or four hours from start to finish. That includes everything from the writing to the rechecking. I am sure some bloggers do it faster but I am still a beginner. 

I love doing all the work and then checking it in draft form. There is such a sense of accomplishment. I feel very competitive with other bloggers who have been posting every day for years. If they can do it, why can’t I? I figured out a formula. I start thinking about the topic I am going to write about after dinner. I start the copy on my iPhone while watching TV. Once I get the general theme written out (and that can be just a few sentences), I feel so comfortable that I can fall asleep pretty quickly because I know that the pressure is off. In the morning I finish the copy in a half hour and then the drudgery begins—–the posting process. I am sure it will go faster once I start using the WordPress app on my iPhone and iPad. I still don’t have a sense of trust yet. 

Memo to Andrea and husband Ron Hein: Have a great trip in South America. I am not saying where you are going to protect your privacy. It was great seeing you at The Palm on Second Avenue in NYC. Don’t forget to sniff the cocoa leaves. Oops !!!!